Maria Connolly, LPC

Category: Positive Mindset

How to Stay Positive Despite the Debbie Downers in Your Life

Even if you know how to stay positive, there will be times that you feel down, because others’ negative attitudes rubs off on you, so here are 5 strategies.“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” ~ Jim Rohn

We really do become like the people we spend time with. So it’s important to consider: Are there any Debbie Downers in your life? (It’s so common people have coined phrases like Debbie Downer or Negative Nellie to describe them.) They’re people who, no matter what, see the negative in every situation.

They can be hard to avoid, especially if they’re an important part of your life. Perhaps you have a childhood friend you love a lot, but you just can’t understand why she is so negative? I’ve been sharing a series of blogs on how to be more positive, however the reality is staying positive is a challenge when dealing with people who are downers.

Of course, no one can be up all the time. Even if you know how to stay positive, there will be times that you’ll feel down. The attitude of the people around you rubs off on you. This is good if you surround yourself with positive people who want you to be happy. However, if the people in your life are consistently negative, for your own health and wellbeing, you’ll want to find ways to deal with this in a constructive manner.

How to stay positive when dealing with negative people

While the first reaction may be to distance yourself from negative people and that is one option, that’s not always feasible when you work with them or you’re closely related to the negative person. So, here are four other options to try:

Daily feed your positive energy.

When you make a daily practice of intentionally filling your mind with positive thoughts, you’ll build up the strength to resist negativity. You can do this by: reading or listening to inspirational sources (I love listening to Tony Robbins on YouTube); spending time with people who lift you up; looking for the good in every situation; and daily reflecting on what you’re grateful for.

See the difference between the behavior and the person.

You can love someone, but not love what they do. Or visa versa you can hate what they do, but not hate the person. Remembering this distinction will help you put their attitude into a different perspective. Consider the source and let the negativity roll off of you like water rolls off of a duck’s back.

Acknowledge and empathize, but you don’t have to agree.

The only way some people seem to know how to connect with others is to dramatize how much they endure or suffer. This can be a real downer if you start taking on their issues in the process. It’s okay to show empathy and listen to them. Just remember that you don’t have to agree with what they’re saying. If appropriate, you might even ask them, “Why do you like to look at life through such a negative point of view?” They’ll probably be shocked that you think they’re negative, because they can’t see it in themselves. Which brings us to the last point…

Become a positive influence

Your outlook can be just as contagious as theirs. Think about what you can do to influence them toward a more positive outlook. If nothing else, this will remind you to remain positive.

Showing others how to live life from the most positive perspective is what great leaders do. If you’d like to expand your leadership abilities please feel free to contact me to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” complimentary consultation with me so we can explore a coaching partnership.

Don’t Let a Negative Attitude Blind You. See the Opportunities!

Don’t let a negative attitude blind you to great opportunities right in front of you - check out the subtle symptoms of negativity and how to heal them.“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~Winston Churchill

A negative attitude has a huge impact on every aspect of your life, whether you realize it or not. It affected how hard you studied in school, what jobs you applied for, whom you dated, where you live, if you eat junk food, if you exercise, how you dress, the way you speak…are you getting the idea? Every decision, action, and thought is affected by your attitude or outlook. Your very success in life depends on it!

“But I don’t have a negative attitude, Maria”, you might reply. Interestingly, quite often people with a negative outlook can’t see it in themselves. Let me ask you: Have you ever been presented with a great opportunity and you said, “I can’t”, without even thinking it through? If so, this is one of the biggest indicators that you tend toward a negative attitude.

Of course, it’s good to be cautious. But why put limits where there really aren’t any? Successful people look for opportunities! Where one door closes, another one opens. Success depends on seeing these open doors of opportunity and having the courage to walk through them.

Since it’s so easy to be fooled that you don’t have a negative attitude, let’s discuss some subtle ways it can show up. Here are some unexpected symptoms that you may be tending toward the negative…and the “prescriptions” to start the healing process. (Yes, a negative outlook is destructive to you physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and if you don’t heal it, your choices in life will hinder your success.)


Symptom: You ache to go to bed and stay in bed.

If you’re not excited about what tomorrow brings, it’s definitely a sign that there’s something negative going on.

Rx: The opportunity is that each new day is a clean slate – you get to “write” on it whatever you want. Begin by reminding yourself of things you can be grateful for, prioritize your tasks, and start something new that you can get excited about.


Symptom: New opportunities fill you with dread.

If your first thought is “it can’t be done”, that’s a good indicator you’re tending toward the negative.

Rx: Perhaps the problem is you’re overtired and overstressed. This is an opportunity, to take a break and be refreshed physically, emotionally and spiritually, so you can take advantage of the next opportunity.


Symptom: You hate your appearance.

Have you ever avoided a function or refused to do something fun, because you weren’t happy with your appearance?

Rx: Take this opportunity to reevaluate what it is that you don’t like (The Wellness Assessment can help) and then do something about it! Learn to accept the things you can’t change, and focus on being a happy. You’ll be surprised at how attractive you look when you have a sunny disposition.


Symptom:  You predict the future based on negative past experiences.

The “when I did this before, it didn’t work, so why even try again” attitude is self defeating.

Rx: The opportunity is that you get another shot at it, this time with a new approach that will work.


Symptom: You make assumptions that support the negative outlook.
Does this sound familiar? “He hasn’t posted the new schedule on his website, so the course must be canceled this year. I’ll never make my business work now.”

Rx: Don’t assume. Communicate! You have the opportunity to ask if something is available. And if it’s not, then look for something that is.

Symptom: You state your predictions as facts.
Are you prone to dogmatic statements that a negative thing is truth, when in reality it could turn out quite differently?

Rx: There’s always more than one way to look at things. You have the opportunity to develop the ability and flexibility to mindfully look at things dispassionately from all angles.

Why not go for a walk right now and think about the past week or month and see if you’ve show any of these symptoms of a negative attitude. If so, be assured that you can form new, positive connections in your brain and get rid of the negative ones.

Please feel free to contact me to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” complimentary consultation so we can explore your options. (Hint: This is an opportunity…a door opening. Do you have the courage to go through it? I think you do!)

Why Are People So Negative? And How to Rewire Your Brain to Focus on the Positive

If you’ve wondered – why are people so negative – this answers that and gives tips on how you can become a positive person and help others be positive too.See the positive side, the potential, and make an effort.” ~ Dalai Lama

When you think back to your childhood, what memories flood your mind? It wouldn’t be surprising if it were the times you felt hurt or embarrassed. And when someone praises you and then provides criticism do the words of praise fade away because you focus on your weakness?

Why are people so negative? Is it hardwired or can it be changed? What can you do to focus on the positive?

Interestingly, scientists have discovered that the brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres. That’s good news! Because if the brain “handles it”, we are in control of how we process negativity and positivity.

Let’s first consider what generally happens when we hear or experience negativity and why it takes on a stronger influence, and then we’ll discuss what we can do to rewire our brain to focus on the positive.

We focus on negative emotions more.

We live in a world of negativity – think about the news cycle! And while bad things happen every day, we don’t have to let that bring us down. We can mindfully choose to focus on negative emotions less and positive emotions more.

We dismiss or downplay compliments and positive feedback.

The key to “seeing the positive” is cultivating a spirit of appreciation and gratitude. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have or can’t do, look for what’s going right; what’s possible; what you do have. Tell yourself, “I work hard”. Tell yourself, “I’m capable”. Tell yourself, “I’m doing the best I can do right now!” And believe it! It helps to also record sincere praise from others in your gratitude journal and savor it. This is a powerful exercise.

We process negative information more thoroughly – going over it again and again.

When going through terrible situations, it’s okay to grieve, and be hurt, angry, disappointed, or embarrassed. But you don’t need to stay in that space, dwelling on it. It’s your choice to look on it as a learning experience. Ask yourself: “How do I want to handle this next time?”, rehearse that and move on.

We tend to see people who say negative things as smarter and we give greater weight to criticisms.

Perhaps because children are praised for too many meaningless things, they don’t get the opportunity to build up resilience when they do receive negative feedback. If you’re bombarded with critical comments, stop them and say “Let me process this. I can only handle only one critical comment at a time.” And when you give feedback, make it constructive and do so sparingly.

We remember words that follow criticism more clearly than those that come before.

It’s best to offer feedback first and then follow up with positive comments. Therefore, reframe feedback you hear in this sequence – criticism first, positive last. When you look for the good in others, and you’re kind, supportive and encouraging, it produces a snowball effect in that it becomes easier to see the positive in yourself.

We use stronger words to describe negative events than happy ones.

For example, have you described a negative event this way “It ruined my day!”? And then turned around and described a positive event with “It was okay.” Give more weight to positive events by learning to experience and describe them differently.

It all boils down to what we choose to see. In every person, in every situation, there is something good. Most of the time, it isn’t obvious. It’s easier to glance at a situation, see the negative and go with that. If you want to empower your life with more positive thinking, please feel free to contact me to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” complimentary consultation with me so we can explore a coaching partnership.

25 Ways to Spot Negative Thinking in Yourself

Are these negative thinking patterns keeping you from living a fuller, richer life – do an honest self examination with 25 ways to spot negative thinking.“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” ~ Wayne Dyer

Are you a “glass half full” or the “glass half empty” kind of person? People tend to look at life situations one way or the other. We all know it’s exactly the same glass – the difference is how you view it.

It’s not always easy to tell when negative thinking is taking over. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we’re being “realistic” rather than negative. Or we’re so used to negative thoughts we think they’re normal and we don’t recognize the impact they’re having on our life.

The following list is compiled to help you make an honest self-examination. (If you feel yourself getting defensive, it’s a good indicator that you have some work to do, which wouldn’t be surprising since today’s society is saturated with negativity.) This list is not intended to make you feel “less than” anyone else, but rather to spark keener self-awareness.

  1. You default to worrying, fear, and are always on the lookout for bad news.
  2. You don’t reveal much information about yourself, because it “could be used against you”.
  3. You love retelling bad news in great detail and you put a negative spin on good news.
  4. You have thin skin, viewing innocent comments as condescending, rude, or offensive.
  5. You whine and complain a lot and use the word “but” often.
  6. You’re afraid to try anything new that’s outside your comfort zone.
  7. You hate getting out of bed because you don’t want to deal with life.
  8. You magnify anything that goes wrong until it’s dramatically tragic.
  9. You immediately list the reasons why a new opportunity won’t work.
  10. You hold back from taking part in activities because you’re too _____ (fill in the blank with what you perceive to be a fault).
  11. You talk badly about yourself.
  12. You can’t accept compliments.
  13. You assume something isn’t available, without even inquiring about it.
  14. You move to a new place, and everyone is “judgmental and mean”.
  15. You go on a vacation and its “ruined” by the weather.
  16. You delight in reciting what went wrong when you tried something new.
  17. You’re a victim – everyone else lives a charmed life where nothing bad happens to them like it does to you.
  18. You know that if something bad is going to happen, it’s going to happen to you.
  19. You tell everyone else how to live, but your own life needs sorted out.
  20. You find yourself running away from pain instead of toward pleasure.
  21. You don’t really know what you like, but you definitely know what you don’t like.
  22. You think other people are out to get you, and you jump to conclusions.
  23. You are an underachiever because you’re afraid of failing.
  24. You give up easily.
  25. You’re not excited about the future.

After reviewing this list, are you seeing that in some ways you tend toward negative thinking? You get out of life what you put into it. And a positive attitude is the main ingredient for a successful life.

Becoming a positive person takes effort, but it can be done. The first step is being willing to see that you’ve become a negative-minded person. (I don’t think you’re born that way. It’s something that you’ve learned, which means you can unlearn it.) This requires that you create a constant mindful awareness of your mental attitude. This often takes support to remind you of the positive things in your life. I’d be happy to partner with you. I recommend you take advantage on my Individual Somatic Coaching.

Stay tuned – in future blogs, we’ll discuss how to turn this negativity around. In the meantime, make sure you take the 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment, as it will help you pinpoint areas that being more positive will make you healthier and happier. Click here to download your free copy.

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